How to Improve Your Blog + Instagram Photography

photography, blog photograpy, fashion photograpy, mixing metals, and other stories

photography, blog photograpy, fashion photograpy, mixing metals, and other stories

Skyscrapers. Traditional Brownstones. Posh coffee shops. Those famous shopping streets in every major city. They make great backdrops for outfit photos or that perfect brunch Instagram shot. You know what also makes for great photos & better stories? Your neighborhood. 

We get asked so much about the photography on the blog that I thought I’ll answer a few of the questions we get most. I want to preface this q + a by saying I believe photos should tell a story. This is why I prefer to make a plan before I shoot a new post. I write these down in the note section of my editorial calendar. If I need to do a more elaborate plan I use Evernote. The point being I want to know the purpose and narrative I want to convey. This makes it easier to pick a location, the right lens and what time of day to shoot. Which is why I love shooting right in my neighborhood most of the time because there are so many spots where I have a personal story or there’s a fun history that can tie into the post.

It’s all about finding a unique perspective that speaks to your brand and aligns with the message you’re trying to convey. It’ll make it easier for others to connect with you through your photos as well.

So before your next shoot take some time and craft a story.

Maybe that flower shop you’re shooting in front of is the same one who did your sweet sixteen and wedding flower arrangements. Create a story around that while showcasing your outfit.

If you live near beautiful mountains maybe try shooting some evening dresses there. The juxtaposition of the shot is going to be so stunning while giving you a unique perspective. It’s something say a blogger in NYC wouldn’t be able to do. It could be anything just find your own perspective that speaks to your brand. Then get creative.

I want to say I’m honored you all love the photography on the blog. It inspires us to keep improving. Now let’s get into these questions.


 

The Q +A

What do we use to edit the photos?

This is easy. Lightroom all the way. Sometimes I may pop a photo into photoshop if it needs a bit more retouching or I want to add a cool effect. Like the opaque border on the photo above.

I created presets for the blog and my Instagram which is the foundation of my editing process. Then I build on it from there. It makes it easy to keep all my photos on brand and cohesive. If this is something you need help with ask a photographer friend or you can check out, Dreamy Presets. She sells photography presets specifically for fashion bloggers.

How can I up my blog/Instagram photography?

I’m going to focus mostly on blog photography but if you want a part two all on Instagram/social media let us know.This is really personal preference. However, I’d say focus on lighting, composition, mood and the story. Finding good lighting is half the battle to taking better photos. My brother & I love shooting late in the day. About an hour or two before sunset, hence why the planning above is so crucial.

Really get creative with the composition of the photo. This is my favorite tip. Try taking photos from high angles, low angles, maybe play with how the light is reflecting off a surface. It will make your photos more visually appealing, show off the clothing better and give you photos that will work across all your social media. After we get shots for the blog my brother always snaps photos that will work great for Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. It takes a little bit longer but it makes for better content when you tailor your photos for each platform.

Lastly, think about what you want to convey and tell a story. Do you want your outfit to feel aspirational or attainable? Are you trying to teach your audience a few useful tips for styling bell sleeve tops? You can do this visually by shooting the outfit with multiple backgrounds, throughout different times in the day and your movement in front of the camera. For example, in this look, I knew I wanted to highlight how to mix metals/hardware finishes without them clashing. I communicated this to my brother and he prioritized highlighting the different metals in the blog photos.

What camera do you use?

We use a Nikon D3300 with a 35mm Nikkor lens mostly. I know a lot of bloggers use Canon but I just love Nikon. I remember being maybe 17 when my parents decided to get me my first camera. They said I could get whatever brand I wanted and me being me, I researched it. Well, I typed into Google “Best Cameras for Fashion Photography” and there was a camera by Nikon that was the number one used in the industry. I was sold and it’s been the only brand I ever used.

I want to end this Q+A by saying just keep switching things up, it’s the best way to grow.Try to stay with a consistent photographer because the more you work together, the better the chemistry and the better the photos. My brother has been taking my photos since 2014 he knows my best angles, how I like certain items shot and how to handle my perfectionist tendencies. We still bicker during shoots all the time but we always get the right shots. If you have more questions let us know and we’ll do more of these.

The color is what initially sold me on this sweater and how soft and non-scratchy the mohair wool is. I was itching to wear this sweater for so long. But we all know Fall has been late to the party so this gem stayed put in my closet. Which is unfortunate because now it’s no longer available but I do have my eye on a few other sweaters from this brand. If you’re on the hunt for more fall pieces you can shop my wishlist below.

 

Outfit Details

Jeans by Zara

Booties by Zara

Sweater by & Other Stories

Leather Jacket by Topshop

Bag by Danielle Nicole via Nordstrom

photography, blog photograpy, fashion photograpy, mixing metals, and other stories

Styling Tip ·When mixing metals or different finishes use accessories to balance it out and keep the overall look cohesive. I'm wearing a leather jacket that has chrome hardware and booties with gold finishes. So in choosing my accessories, I went for a bag with gold hardware and a couple rings in each finish. Lastly, I tucked in my sweater to show off the chrome hardware on my jeans. Choosing pieces with subtle hardware and evenly distributing the metals keeps them from clashing.

& Other Stories Sweater Wish List ( click to shop)

photography, blog photograpy, fashion photograpy, mixing metals, and other stories


Photos by Summers Photography

 FTC Disclaimer: Affiliate links have been used

Remember Why You Started | Note From Lay

Going back to our roots is always necessary for life. When you feel lost, uninspired or you need validation that you’re on the right path. Lately, I’ve been really evaluating my life and checking to see if it’s headed where I imagine. I’ve asked myself if I’m walking in my truth, following my destiny and am I doing what I feel deep in my spirit I’ve been called to do. The answer is yes and no. Here’s why.

I started this blog for a few reasons.

1. As a place to share all my stories and push my creativity. Whether they were true or figments of my imagination.

2. To answer all the questions I received about where I shop or what deep conditioner I used on my hair

3. As an ode to the women who inspired me the most, especially my mom and grandma

Along the way one of these reasons got lost. That being the storytelling. It was a struggle for me to figure out where my creative stories would fit on the blog. Following all the blogging advice of sticking to a niche, focusing on adding value in one area but at the same time have a unique perspective. Honestly, following advice from too many people just left me feeling lost. Just the way obsessing over numbers, growth, success left me uninspired. Taking a step back to gain some perspective helped me to realize my storytelling is who I am and makes me unique.

I fell in love with fashion, books, art and writing from a young age. I was very shy and didn’t like to speak much but I was so curious about the world. So I observed everything and then I’d create my own stories. Sometimes those stories would be in the form of fashion collages, my closet doors were covered in cutouts from my favorite looks in Seventeen and Vogue growing up. Other times those stories were sketches in a random notebook. I always just let my imagination run wild. So I’m going to remember why I started and go back to my roots.

I love the community we’ve built here on the blog and across social media. I love speaking and connecting with all of you. This blog is becoming so much more than I imagined. I feel so grateful and blessed. So I hope you all will enjoy how I weave in these changes, personal stories, and the increased creativity.

It is because of this change that now I’ll be able to answer yes when asked if I’m walking in my truth and destiny.You ever have a dream that is beautiful you wish it were real. We are given the blessings to make our dreams come true. Go make them a reality but always remember why you started.

 

My Favorite Fall Color Combo

Fall color combo, how to wear burgundy this fall , song of style

Fall color combo, how to wear burgundy this fall , song of style

Another fall season, new fall obsessions. Going deep, dark and edgy is usually the go-to vibe for the season. My favorite fall color combo shouldn’t come as a surprise then. It’s all about the burgundy and gray. I love wearing different shades of gray, especially in the cooler months because it just fits my vibes. Issa vibe, ya know?

Suede is the little obsession of mine that isn’t going away. Here’s why:

  1. Suede makes any item look more luxe, therefore, it always elevates a look.
  2. It pairs well with matte or patent finishes which means every piece of your outfit will pop. And on a whole look a lot more seamless
  3. Well, it just feels nice * shoulder shrug*

Those are the reasons suede is always a staple in my closet. When I’m wearing such fitted denim and top I love to have pieces that create movement and depth. Cue, the suede, and burgundy. The fringe detailing on the jacket and bucket bag help to create a nice movement which looks great in photos.

I’m always preaching about how to tie everything together. One way to do this without being matchy is with finishes and accessories. There were gold finishes on the hardware of my bag and shoes, therefore, I did gold earrings to create flow from head to toe.

I have a post upcoming up this month that will give you a more in-depth breakdown. So stay tuned and share your favorite fall color combo in the comments.

Fall color combo

Outfit Details

Turtleneck by Topshop

Jeans by Topshop

Shoes by Marc Fisher

Bag by Ann Taylor

Jacket by Azalea


FTC Disclaimer: Affiliate links have been used

5 Steps to Get Ready for Your Girls Night Out

 girls night

You’re lounging at home in your pajamas and suddenly you get a text from your bestie like:

 

Now, you’re frantic because you ran out of dry shampoo and all 900 of your bobby pins have disappeared. Or maybe you made plans days ago but procrastinated on finding something to wear. Either way, you’re going out with your friends. You’re excited but also a little stressed. You need a little help, okay, maybe more than a little.

We all love getting dressed up and heading out for a fun girls night. Whether it’s to dinner, a concert, a swanky lounge or fashion event.But let’s be honest sometimes the thought of getting ready can be daunting. What to wear? How to do your hair? Is my winged eyeliner going to be even? So much so you might start to feel the effort to get ready isn’t worth it. Don’t worry girl, I’ve got you covered. I’ll give you the details on how to set the right mood, tips for prepping your skin, a bold night out makeup look, and the perfect outfit.

I promise you won’t have to go a ton of stores either. In fact, you only have to go to one place for all your beauty needs, Ulta Beauty. And if you have a black blazer in your closet, you won’t have to spend a dime on your outfit. Just keep reading.

 


Your Girls Night Out Guide
1| Start with a mask and relax

Anytime I’m prepping for a girls night out I start with a mask. Skincare is Queen. Whenever you’re going to wear heavier makeup you want to prep your skin with a deep cleanse. I love the Kaolin Clay Detoxifying Mask by Michael Todd because it deep cleans my pores making sure any bacteria or dirt from the day is gone. The worst thing you could do is put makeup on top of clogged pores. Hello, breakouts. While I’m waiting for my mask to dry I pour myself a glass of wine or champagne and relax.

2| Follow up with a moisturizer

Hydration is key. The better you care for your skin, the better your makeup will look. My two favorites are the GinZing Energy-Boosting Moisturizer by Origins and Cetaphil which work extremely well my sensitive combination skin. This is also the time I suggest turning on some music. You can’t get ready for a girls night without your “Getting Ready” playlist. It’s girl code. Get a sneak peek at mine a little further down.

girls night

girls night

 

girls night 3| You’re makeup look

Most girls probably grew up watching their moms do their makeup. My mom, however, did not wear makeup. Instead, I grew up watching her attempt to do mine for dance recitals and pageants. Once, I was old enough to do my own makeup I relished in it. I loved creating bold looks for dance performances, photo shoots, and pageants. That’s how my obsession with makeup started and I became the beauty expert in my family. Moral of the story: makeup is fun, have fun with it.

Eyes

Since I tend to do really natural looks during the day. It’s fun for me to get to flex my makeup skills and do more dramatic looks for a night out. I always go for extra drama with my night time makeup. I created a chocolate smoky eye using the Tartelette Clay Matte Eyeshadow Palette by Tarte and the Semi Sweet Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette by Too Faced. These palettes are amazing because they work for both day and night looks. Then I went in with my master precise eyeliner by Maybelline to add a bit more intensity to the look. I love this liner because it makes winging your liner so easy.

For my lashes, I went in with about 3 coats of my Better than Sex mascara.  I also added a pair of false lashes on top. Did I say I love the drama?

Face

Always start with a primer for your makeup. I’m in love with the Timeless Smoothing Primer by Tarte, it gives me the most flawless finish and minimizes my pores. I like to concentrate this primer on my t-zone and undereye area. For the rest of my face, I like applying the illuminating primer by CoverFX to give my skin a nice glow. My favorite foundations are really light with a slightly watery texture. They just blend so easily and give a naturally flawless finish. A favorite is the All day luminous weightless foundation by NARS  which I like to apply with my fingers.

No look is complete without a little highlighting.  I remember browsing in Ulta Beauty one summer looking for a new highlighter and one of the makeup artists gushed about the Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator by Laura Geller telling me I had to try it. She applied it on me and it was gorgeous! I found out what true love was that day. There was only one left in the store and of course, I had to get it. It is the perfect warm gold and ties this makeup look together beautifully. To finish off the look I set my face with my Mineralize Skinfinish by Mac.

girls night

girls night

4| Hair

Growing up I had a love/hate relationship with my thick curly natural hair. There was even a time I begged my mom and hairdresser for a relaxer which they denied me. Years later I’m grateful they taught me how to care for and love my curls. I feel so bold and beautiful when I let my mane out to its full glory. To achieve this look I applied my Bb.Curl Defining Creme to my curls which you guys know is my fave. Then I gently combed out my curls until I got the desired volume.

 5| The outfit

When I go out I tend to go for a sexy but classy look. I took a blazer and turned into a dress with a belt. To keep everything covered I paired a fitted mini skirt underneath. The last step is to spray on your favorite fragrance. My mom loved the Bright Crystal by Versace perfume and I used to steal hers all the time. Now it is my favorite of all time. It smells amazing, trust me and go get you a bottle.

If you’re looking for a fun event to attend in Boston with your girls this weekend come out to College Fashion Week this Saturday. You’ll get to see the new trends for fall come down the runway, get makeovers with Ulta Beauty and take home a swag bag of goodies. Oh, and you can also hang out with me. Keep scrolling for all the details.

Have a Girls Night Out with Ulta Beauty and Her Campus

 – 

ROYALE

 279 TREMONT STREET BOSTON, MA, 02116 

You can purchase tickets here: http://www.collegefashionweek.com/


This is a sponsored post in partnership with Ulta Beauty and Her Campus Media. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Lay Summers possible! All words and opinions are my own.

 

Last Summer Look

the last summer look, urban outfitters blogger style

the last summer look, urban outfitters blogger style

 

It’s technically, the last day of summer. I’ve been in fall mode for weeks now but the weather this past weekend was holding on to summer. It was still warm enough for me to squeeze out this last summer look. Every year it seems I always do an ode to summer post and the tradition continues this year.

I had intended on shooting a fall look but it was way too hot for turtleneck chunky sweaters. Instead, I decided to pay homage to summer with this mauve pink romper by Urban Outfitters. This romper is really cute on its own but it needed some styling to help it pop. I added a gold chain Michael Kors belt to create more shape and add a unique detail. This is pretty much the only way I wear belts. They are such an underrated accessory but can update a look easily.

I always pay attention to how I can pair complementary or unique color palettes together. The mauve color in the romper pairs well with pinks and browns. Therefore, layering a light pink blazer helped to create a nice contrast which helped the romper pop. The different shades of brown are neutral tones that tie everything together. Of course, there has to be a little bling, enter these droplet earrings. They also tie in the gold accents in the purse and belt. Voilà. You have the perfect end of summer look.

Do you like seeing me break down my outfit choices and why I paired certain pieces? Is it helpful to you? I’m always looking to improve and create more valuable content you all will enjoy.  We recently expanded our content to include a youtube channel with videos focusing on style, beauty, and weekly vlogs. Check it out and let us know what you’d like to see there as well. We’re also working on a few new projects to launch later this year and next year. We are always trying to improve and your feedback is welcomed.

p.s. we = my brother and I. We run this blog together and he is the one behind all the lovely photography on the blog and across my social media.

Outfit Details

Romper by Urban Outfitters

Blazer by H&M

Shoes by Steve Madden

Purse by Louis Vuitton

Earrings by Aldo

Sunglasses by Rayban

 

the last summer look, urban outfitters blogger style

The August Book List + Introducing the Book Club

The August Book ListAugust was a slow reading month for me. I only read one book even though I had intended to read more. The month just became so busy for me and I didn’t set aside any time for reading. It happens. However, I’m back on my regular reading schedule for September. I have so many books series I want to finish plus there are new books coming out in September that I’ve been waiting months for.

A few of you mentioned to me that you want to start reading more. However, it’s hard to find the time or be accountable. I had been toying with the idea of doing a book club. Therefore, I decided to share a few books that I plan on reading the next month with each new book list. That way you all can check them out too and read along with me. Then each month along with the newest book list post I’ll do a book discussion video on my youtube channel. I hope this allows us to discuss the books in more detail and help you all with your reading goals.

The first book club list is below for what I’ll be reading in September. Let me know what you all think and if you have any suggestions to make this more valuable to you. I always love hearing from you.


August Book List
White Cat (Curse Workers Series #1), The August Book ListWhite Cat by Holly Black

Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: Urban Fantasy/ Magical Realism

Summary: Cassels comes from a family of magical criminals. They have the abilities to control emotions, memories, and luck. When one night he almost sleepwalks off the roof of his dorm he starts to realize he’s part of a much bigger game and begins searching for the truth.

My Thoughts: I was really excited to read this book. Holly Black has a book called the Cruel Prince coming out in 2018 that I’m dying to read. To pass the time I decided to check out some of her other books. I was intrigued to read this book because it has a male protagonist and the premise for the story was really interesting. I mean magical criminals, does it get better? I did enjoy the story but the writing was a little juvenile. I wanted the characters to develop a little more and even go darker. Some parts of the story dragged on a little too long and right when things were getting interesting the story ended. I got to the end of the book thinking, that’s it? Which left me feeling unsatisfied.

Granted this is a part of a trilogy so the story may go the direction I was hoping in later books. I do plan to finish the series at some point. Holly Black has really creative concepts and I’m still excited to read her future books.


The Book Club – September List

 

Why do you love Fashion?

Growing up I begged my mom for magazine subscriptions. I wanted Seventeen, Vogue, W, Harper Bazaar, Essence, and Ebony. Can you believe she actually ordered me 4-year subscriptions to all of them? Each month I’d receive the newest editions and pour over them for hours. I read them cover to cover and studied them. My closet doors were covered with the collages of the photos I cut out of my favorite looks. Those photos would serve as my inspiration when I went to get dressed. I loved playing in clothes and creating all type of looks even if sometimes I wasn’t bold enough to wear it outside. Instead, I’d put on a mini runway show for my mom and grandma.

As I got older I’d help my mom and aunt get ready for their work Christmas parties, weddings, and birthday celebrations. It was always a good time. Then later I had a blast designing my sweet sixteen and prom dress with my mom. This is why I love fashion. It is connected to some of the happiest and most rewarding moments of my life. It gave me a gateway into my creativity, helped me to find my voice and tell the stories that lived in my imagination.

Since all the fashion weeks are upon us I’d thought it’d be fun to share why we love fashion, my favorite and least favorite trends, and my fashion icons. I hope this month we can have a good girl talk on why we love fashion. Let me know your reasons.

Also, I’m currently doing a jewelry giveaway with a great company called Bird & Stone. Enter here

Transitioning into Fall with the Leather Mini Skirt

Transitioning into Fall
Transitioning into Fall

There are only a few weeks lefts of summer. Fall is quickly coming upon us and I wanted to share a look for transitioning into fall fashion. I love a good leather faux mini skirt and I’m sure you know this by now. Apparently, I must give thanks to designer, Mary Quant, as she is credited with inventing the mini skirt.

It’s a great piece to wear for the end of summer while still bringing in the fall vibes. I think it’s the leather. Fall = leather in my book. This skirt by Leith is great because of the texture detailing. It adds a cool, edgy vibe while being great for summer and fall. I love the soft material and the high waist line which is unique for a mini skirt.

A black and white combo is always a favorite. To keep it refreshing I chose a white top that has flowy open sleeves and a fun detailed open back. If you love a certain look I suggest looking for unique, quirky or statement details in the pieces you’re pairing together. This way it keeps things feeling fresh. I love transitioning into fall with color as well. My Dolce and Gabbana bag has been my favorite lately, it’s just the perfect amount of fun color. It’s one of those colors I believe work year round and is perfect for transitioning into different seasons.

The leather mini works so well with many different styles of shoes. You can pair it like I did with stilettos, with a pair of slides, or booties. It’s definitely a piece you can wear well into October.

Ugh. Can’t believe I’m even thinking about October. I love fall but I’m not a fan of the steady temperature decline. I’m a summer baby, can’t help it. Let me know if what you’d like to see more of on the blog this fall in the comments.

Outfit Details

Skirt by Leith

Top by Zara ( love this, this & this)

Bralette by Urban Outfitters

Shoes by Diane Von Furstenberg ( Love these, these & these)

Bag by Dolce & Gabbana

Earrings by Aldo ( Similar, Love these)

Transitioning into Fall

Shop My Leith Picks

My Morning Skincare Routine | Summer Edition

my morning skincare
my morning skincareMy morning skincare routine is really simple. I usually don’t have a ton of time in the morning plus I’ve never been the one for elaborate morning routines. I usually prefer to throw on a podcast before hopping in the shower. Lately, I’ve been loving The Influencer Podcast by Julie Solomon and The Joel Osteen Podcast. I love starting my morning with a dose of positivity and both these podcasts are full of it. Once I’m in the shower I start with washing my face.

For the past month and half my favorite cleanser has been the GinZing scrub by Origins. I love the texture and that it gives a gentle exfoliation. I have pretty sensitive combination skin so I need products that are gentle but still effective. I remember when I was in high school and I’d get super bad breakouts in my T- Zone. I swear my mom did everything to help including taking me to multiple dermatologist appointments. The products they always prescribed me were always too harsh. Finally, we were shopping in Macy’s and a sales lady recommended Origins. It was one of the first brands that worked well with my skin and helped with my acne.

Once I’m out the shower I like to apply my toner. The only one I’ve used for years now is the Thayer’s Witchhazel and I swear by it. It’s also a great makeup remover. Once that dries I apply my eye cream. I just recently got into using eye creams and I know I’m late to the party. Honestly, I never thought they were necessary but I’ve been proven wrong. So very wrong. My under eye area feels so hydrated and my concealer goes on extra smoothly, no creasing. I tend to lounge on my bed and continue to listen to my podcast while I let the eye cream work its magic. Sometimes I’ll also pop on to Instagram because who can resist checking social media in the morning. I’ve worked hard to make sure it’s not the first thing I do in the morning.

The last step is to moisturize. I have a deep love for gel moisturizers since I feel they work best with my skin. Voilá.  My skin is all prep for the day. Let me know your skin type and your morning routine in the comments.

 

My Morning Skincare Steps

Cleanse + Tone + Apply Eyecream + Moisturize

The Products

These products were gifted to me by Origins and Sephora but all opinions are my own.

@laysummers

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